Forum Selection Clauses in Contract

Matthews vs. National Football League Management Council, 77 Cal. Comp. Cases 711 (2012 United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit)

Applicant sought Workers’ Compensation benefits in California and defendants contended that the application violated the player’s employment contract which requires that all workers’ compensation claims be decided under Tennessee law.  The parties submitted the dispute to arbitration and the arbitrator found that the player violated his employment contract by filing a California workers’ compensation claim.  On appeal the court rejected applicant’s argument that the arbitration award contravened California’s workers’ compensation policy, federal labor policy, and the full faith and credit clause.  The court rejected these arguments and further stated it was not even clear that California would extend workers’ compensation benefits regarding the player’s alleged injuries due to his limited contacts with the state.

 

McKinley vs. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (Arizona Cardinals), 78 Cal. Comp. Cases 872, (2013 Writ of Review denied)

WCAB En Banc declined to exercise jurisdiction over the claim of a professional football player’s cumulative trauma injury when there was a reasonable mandatory forum selection clause in the employment contract specifying that claims for workers’ compensation must be filed in forum other than California and there was limited connection to California with regard to applicant’s employment and claimed injuries.  The WCAB also found that it had jurisdiction to determine if it was the proper forum to adjudicate applicant’s workers compensation claim because California had personal jurisdiction over defendant.  The WCAB further found that applicant was not a resident of California when he contracted to play for defendant, that his contracts of employment were made in Arizona, that the majority of applicant’s work duties were performed in Arizona and that the forum selection clause is presumed valid as it was not a product of fraud or overreaching.  The WCAB further found that the forum selection clause was not contrary to California fundamental public policy and the applicant as the party challenging the validity of the mandatory forum selection clause, did not carry his burden of showing the clause was unreasonable.

 

Williams vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2013), Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. Lexis 88 (2013 panel decision)

The WCAB declined to exercise jurisdiction over applicant’s claimed industrial cumulative trauma injury.  The WCAB found that applicant was bound by the forum selection clause in the contracts between himself and the Jaguars from 2007 through 2011 under which the parties contractually agreed that any workers’ compensation claims will be brought in the state of Florida.  The WCAB further found there was no indication that the clause was a product of fraud or overreaching, that enforcement of the clause would be unreasonable or unjust given that applicant selected the forum where his team was located and where he resided, and that proceeding with the claim in Florida would not be gravely difficult or that enforcement of the clause would contravene any public policy.  The WCAB further found that the applicant filed his claim in California solely because California’s laws, particularly the statute of limitations, were more favorable to his claim injury.